Cow Tongues

Cow Tongues by

They are the main characters in life and death. In life, they lick lips and pick noses. They test the sheen of your jacket and taste the sweets from your fingers. Textured, like a toothbrush, they scratch at the death on your hands while their friends, minutes ahead of them in the queue, are skinned. Following you, they stretch from the mouth of an unsuspecting ruminant, wide-eyed. Bovine is Zeus being so perturbed by Lo, that he might just stick his fingers in her pants.


In death, cow tongues lol along a line of steel-faced workers looking for tuberculosis. They break from the chest of the mouth, part severed and wholly surprised, red with blood, dripping. They smell sweet, as I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, but it’s not a lie. Like the insides of a bottle that held synthetic sweeter, they are equal parts plastic and the promise of rich calories. You cannot help salivating, even if you’ve sworn off eating flesh in favour of carrots.


Tongues with heads still attached are thrown into the bins. Collected for the government to record the life and death of your cheese burger. At nearly fifteen thousand pounds per head to enter this database, cow tongues are arguably a luxury.


In the meat sorting room, where labels and chunks of mince fall into different packaging, bearing different pricing though they consequently come from the same animal, the plant manager chats about marrow bones. Like tongues, they can be dog food or go directly to Westminster. There doesn’t seem to be a coherent in-between of posh or tosh. It’s just the way it is.





Viktoria Dahill lives in Gloucestershire and is working on what she hopes will be her debut novel about British farming. She’s a London Library Emerging Writer with an MA in creative writing. When not writing, she can be found lambing, baking brownies, or walking from sunrise to sunset. She lurks on Twitter @Ahthatsbecky


Photo – cow tongue – Michele Dorsey Walfred


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